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In late March, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered all public servants to work from home to observe social distancing, which has been recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat the virus./COURTESY

Coronavirus

Spike in unproductivity by civil servants pushes govt to review work from home directive

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 21 – The government says it is reviewing its work from home directive after it reported a spike in unproductivity among its employees.

Labour Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui said the ministry will come up a substantive guideline on how to measure productivity as opposed to adopting a leaner staff.

In late March, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered all public servants to work from home to observe social distancing, which has been recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat the virus.

The coronavirus has so far infected 281 people in the country, including 14 fatalities.

“Working from home has its own challenges and the ministry in conjunction with social partners are working together to come up with guidelines and tools to be used while working from home,” he said during a virtual meeting with the Senate seven-member Ad Hoc committee on coronavirus.

At the same time, Chelugui disclosed that close to 300, 000 employees in the Tourism sector will be sent on unpaid leave for the months of May and June if the coronavirus pandemic in the country does not change.

He said the decision was arrived at following a meeting between stakeholders after a similar measure was adopted by employers in various organizations in the country.

“If the situation persists, they will be placed on unpaid leave. We had engagements in the tourism sector and this is what we agreed,” he told the Senate seven-member Ad Hoc committee on coronavirus during a virtual meeting.

He added that close to 50, 000 employees in the horticultural sector were placed on unpaid leave and those in the aviation industry and encouraged employers to adopt a similar move instead of firing their employees.

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His proposal coincidentally is captured in the Pandemic Response Management Bill 2022 that has been sponsored by Johnson Sakaja.

In the provision, the Bill states that “where an employer is unable to meet his obligations to pay salaries or wages, the employer shall permit an employee to take leave of absence without pay for the duration of the pandemic.”

Senators are on Tuesday afternoon expected to reduce the publication period of the Bill from 14 to four days.

He also revealed that the government had resorted to subjective employees to pay cuts and sending them on unpaid leave to avert mass layoffs and job losses as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.

He was accompanied by Labour Principal Secretary Peter Tum during the virtual meeting.

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